THE PRESIDENTIAL palace has called on both the public and private sectors to adopt alternative work schedules to help contain a novel coronavirus outbreak.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said a four-day workweek for government employees was being studied.

“As far as the civil service is concerned, they are discussing the adoption of a four-day workweek as one of the measures that the Civil Service can do in terms of government workers,” he told state-owned PTV News Channel.

He also called on private companies to consider a flexible working arrangement.

Last week, the Labor department issued guidelines on flexible work arrangements as a remedial measure to keep workers safe.

Mr. Nograles said that the advisory seeks “to discourage businesses from laying off and retrenching workers and adopting a flexi-work arrangement instead.”

Meanwhile, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has allowed companies under it to enforce work-from-home arrangements.

Companies within economic zones may adopt the plan without seeking permission from PEZA, it said in a statement.

PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza said the aim is to protect the health and welfare of employees and ensure continued operations.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday signed a proclamation declaring the outbreak a public health emergency.

The PEZA memo allows work-from-home arrangements for employees who deliver critical services, exhibit flu-like symptoms but are capable of working, and have been exposed to persons exhibiting those symptoms.

The companies may also reassign employees to other facilities in PEZA-registered or non-registered IT parks or centers.

They may also increase the number of employees for business continuity plans.

Ms. Plaza said PEZA’s export-oriented companies, which account for 80% of its locators, have been highly affected by world and local disasters, as well as trade wars. — Gillian M. Cortez and Jenina P. Ibañez